Easter seems to be a feast for eating. ‘Feaster’, if you like. It’s a four-day holiday and a chance to catch up with family, bake and eat. Sounds like a pretty perfect long weekend, if you ask me.
But it’s also a loaded time of year for me. I was diagnosed just after the Easter Bunny visited. I can still remember the way I felt at our huge extended family gatherings on Easter Sunday, desperately trying to quench a thirst that was simply unappeasable, visit the bathroom frequently and squint as I tried to bring into focus whatever I was looking at.
‘You’ve lost weight; you look amazing,’ remarked a family member, clearly blind to the fact I was slumped on the floor by the heater, distractedly trying to warm up my shrinking body which was virtually falling apart. ‘I feel like shit,’ I replied. ‘But, thanks. I think.’
This Saturday will mark nineteen years I’ve lived with diabetes. It feels like forever to me in some ways, yet there are moments of life before diagnosis that are still crystal clear, and achingly unattainable.
If someone was to ask me what the most valuable piece of advice I could share with someone else living with diabetes, I wouldn’t hesitate. It has nothing to do with the foods we eat, the drugs we take, the devices we use. It wouldn’t be able the healthcare team to bring along on the ride or the hospital to visit. It wouldn’t be about the best time to inject or the supplements to take or the way to think about diabetes.
It would be simply to advise people to be kind. If you have diabetes, be kind to yourself. If you are affected by diabetes in any way, be kind to yourself and to those actually living with diabetes.
I don’t have many answers when it comes to living with diabetes. I muddle along, learning what is good for me at that moment and doing what I can to live as well as I can. I try to be kind to myself, although often need a reminder. I probably am my own harshest critic – a lot of others are probably in the same boat.
Nineteen years down, and a lot of personal criticism in there. A lot of self-blame. Not enough kindness to myself. I judge myself in ways I wouldn’t tolerate from others. I am harsh when I should be kind.
So this weekend, as I go about my ‘Feaster-ing’, I’m going to make a real effort to be kind to myself. And to help remind me, I have my heart on my sleeve to remind myself to be gentle and kind. It makes life easier. It makes life with diabetes easier.